Yoga and pregnancy
Current research on the benefits of yoga during pregnancy now substantiates its use here from a recent review that confirms that it “improves stress levels, quality of life, aspects of interpersonal relating, autonomic nervous system functioning and improvement in labor parameters including comfort, pain, and duration” ¹.
Movement is essential during pregnancy to send you on the right path during pregnancy, birth and beyond! Not only are you connecting with yourself, but you're connecting with your child. The constant flow you encounter during yoga reflects the similar process of birth in the surrender and connection, helping to engage with that sensuality in yourself. This comes with the lessons yoga teaches of breathing. By learning to slow the breath in awkward/uncomfortable positions, this can then be used during birth to manage the pain instead of fighting it.
In a physical sense, yoga produces the hormone relaxin to allow for increased flexibility and strength to help your muscles in the abdominal, leg and back area to support the demands on your body during pregnancy and in birth. Another way it helps prepare the body is by stretching the hips and the perineum (space between the vagina and anus) for space to spread during pregnancy and in labor.
So although its so easy to stop exercising when pregnant, try your best to find the time and it will be oh so worth it! However processed with caution – Generally very light movement is recommended in the first trimester, and some positions are contraindicated in this stage altogether. To find a yoga space that offers pregnancy classes and do it under the safe practice of a certified teacher.
Us naturopaths are trained to have a standard of knowledge around what is safe and what is NOT in pregnancy. We are lucky enough to have some herbal medicines that can act on the body in improving birthing outcomes. Raspberry leaf tea has long been used as a partus preparator. Taking it halfway through the pregnancy is very useful in decreasing preterm labor, cesarean, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction or artificial water rupture ². During the last trimester, it is safe to take 2 cups of organic raspberry leaf tea per day.
A healthy, balanced diet is essential during pregnancy (SEE Preconception diet post). However, there are also some foods that can help with birth preparation. Red dates (medjool or deglet noor) can help with pregnancy by increasing the oxytocin needed to birth. Some studies have shown they're associated with cervical “ripening,” decreased need for labor induction, artificial labor stimulation, and a higher chance of being dilated on hospital arrival². Taking about 8 a day from 36-37 weeks is the magic number.
If you’re pregnant or planning, by booking in with our pregnancy specialist Maree Noonan, you can be supported during this process from before conception to birth and beyond!
1. Curtis, K., Weinrib, A., & Katz, J. (2012). Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2012.
2. Aviva Romm. (2018). Herbs for an easier labor. Retrieved from https://avivaromm.com/herbs-easier-labor/.
Jade is a final year naturopathy Student at Southern School of Natural Therapies. She is currently seeing patients from the student clinic at their Fitzroy campus.